The verdict is in: North Jersey politicians are on-board for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan to rebuild the roads, bridges and other infrastructures that are badly in need of fixing in the Garden State.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill summed up the statements of New Jersey Democrats when she said that the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal strikes “at the heart of the problems” the U.S. is facing.
“For the last four years, we have heard talk about infrastructure over and over again,” said Sherrill (D-11). “This plan will create jobs, increase our resilience to climate change, continue the fight against poverty, and finally upgrade our crumbling physical infrastructure.”
The eight year plan presented by President Biden allocates $621 billion for transportation, including $115 billion for modernizing roads, highways, and bridges; $111 billion for water infrastructure; $100 billion for broadband; $100 billion for power grid upgrades; $213 billion for creating and retrofitting over 2 million housing units; $100 billion for upgrading and building public schools; $180 billion towards research and development; and $300 billion for American manufacturing and small business.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5), recently joined by local North Jersey labor leaders and officials, highlighted how urgently the region needs infrastructure investment to fix bridges, tunnels, and roads.
Standing beneath the Route 4 Hackensack River bridge that connects Teaneck and Hackensack , Gottheimer drive the point home of why infrastructure investment is needed in the 5th Congressional District as the state road conditions are the third worst in the nation and more than 500 bridges in the Garden State are currently rated as deficient by the federal government.
“The bottom line is that we cannot afford to wait any longer. We cannot afford four more years of crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, lead-filled pipes, and failed transportation,” said Gottheimer. “Not only will infrastructure investment create thousands of good-paying jobs for construction workers, engineers, and others directly involved in those projects.”
“Higher quality infrastructure will help the economy in the short and long-term, and help it operate more efficiently: cars and trucks will spend less time idling in traffic. Companies and jobs will come here, stay here, and grow here.”
For the North Jersey congressional delegation, the key will be securing funding for the Gateway project that was slowed under former President Donald Trump.
“The last administration did nothing but obstruct progress on crucially needed infrastructure projects like the Gateway Tunnel,” said Sherrill. “The focus on projects of national significance in this package, like the Gateway Tunnel, America’s most critical surface infrastructure project, makes clear that the years my colleagues and I have spent advocating on this issue have worked.”
Sen. Bob Menendez stated the investments offered in the plan will drive economic recovery from the pandemic, connect more people to places and spur development in underserved communities.
“I’m pleased President Biden’s commitment to modernizing the Northeast Corridor and bringing our transit systems into a state of good repair will allow us to move the Hudson River rail tunnels forward with strong federal support,” said Menendez. “Gateway is a project of national significance for a region of the country that generates one-fifth of the entire U.S. economy and must be completed without further delay.”
“It will provide New Jersey commuters with safer and more reliable service and is the type of smart infrastructure investment that will pay for itself several times over in economic growth.”
Payne Pushes Gateway
Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., who sits on the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is fully supportive of the American Jobs Plan because it will provide “significant benefits” to New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District.
“Officials with the Biden Administration have said that funding for the Gateway Program and Hudson Tunnel project are a top priority and this plan provides billions of dollars to upgrade our nation’s road and rail infrastructure,” stated Payne.
Payne pushed back on Republician criticisms that the plan allocates only a small fraction of money on “real” infrastructure as spending to address issues like home care, electric vehicles and water pipes should not count.
“It will provide funding to replace aging water pipes in our nation’s distribution system and hopefully support Newark’s current efforts to upgrade them throughout the city,” said Payne.
“It will help working families because it supports the schools and childcare facilities they need to educate and provide safe environments for their children. Many facilities have shut down due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and need this support to reopen nationwide.”
From a state perspective, Gov. Phil Murphy noted the “future-focused” American Jobs Plan no longer cherry-picks projects and ideas based on politics, or pitting regions of the country against each other.
“It recognizes that while there may be…fifty states, there is only one United States,” stated Murphy. “The President’s plan recognizes that true and sustainable economic policy must not focus solely on big business, but that it must focus on people…that tax fairness and ensuring equity for the middle class, and those struggling to join its ranks, must be a national guidepost.”
In New Jersey, Murphy said the plan will super-charge the state’s efforts to build a stronger, fairer, and more resilient economy.
“It will create good, union jobs. It will energize our emergence as a leader in offshore wind energy, restore our global preeminence in technology and the life sciences, and allow us to do more for our families and communities in terms of safe housing and schools,” said the governor. “It understands that small businesses and innovative startups must be the focal point for our future economic growth and strength.”